Practice of Yoga started way back in the Vedic period. Great scholars of that period were having widespread knowledge about human anatomy and various techniques to keep the body healthy. Yoga postures were evolved based on that knowledge. All the Yoga postures are not invented by any single individual, but evolved over a period of several thousand years based on researches made by several Great Yogis lived in different periods in the past millenniums. Afterwards, about 2000 years ago, a Great Maharshi named Pathanjali consolidated the results of researches made by his predecessors and created “Pathanjali Yogasutram”. This ultimate work is considered to be the Magnum Opus of Yoga even today.
WHAT IS YOGA-ABHYASA: ?
Yoga-Abhyasa or Yoga is nothing but practice of Ashtanga Yoga (Eight limbed Yoga). In other words, practicing the eight limbs of Yoga viz. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Prathyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi is referred as Yoga Abhyasa.
- Yama : Yama describes the codes of conduct to be followed to upkeep one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity: 10 constituents of Yama are:
Ahimsa or Non-violence
Satya or Truthfulness
Asteya or Nonstealing
Daya or Compassion
Saucha or Purity
Dhriti or Steadfastness
Kshama or Patience
Brahmacharya or Being with the Ultimate Truth
Mitahara or Moderate Diet
Arjava or Honesty
- Niyama : Niyama describes Golden Rules to be followed for self discipline and Spiritual advancement. 10 Laws under Niyama are:
Tapas or Austerity
Astikya or Faith
Santosha or Contentment
Dana or Charity
Ishvarapujana or Worship of the Lord
Japa or Incantation
Vrata or Sacred Vows
Hri or Modesty
Mati or Cognition
Siddhanta Sravana or Scriptural Listening
III. Asanas : Body postures:
Asanas are the Yogic physical postures. It is mainly based on the contents of Hatha Yoga. The practice of Yoga-Asanas is a therapy to maintain good health of the body and also an aid to improve concentration of mind. Yoga practice also helps to clean the inner parts of the body by expelling body wastes like phlegm (kapha), excreta (mala) and urine and thereby helps to maintain the body free from diseases and sickness.
Yoga Asanas can be broadly classified into two: (1) Asanas or postures for practicing Dhyana ( Meditation) and for improvising the mental ability / stability, like Swasthika, Padma, Sidha, Vagra, etc and (2) Asanas for developing good physique of the body.
- Pranayama : Breathing control exercises:
Pranayama are breath control exercises to enrich Pranic Power (Vital Power) of the body by attaining balance of Prana and Apana to clean the inner parts of the body by expelling body wastes.
- Pratyahara : Control of the senses:
Wandering of mind without control in various worldly matters is highly destructive in the advancement of human life realization. Prathyahara is the withdrawal of mind from worldly matters through detachment of senses to external objects and keeping still in one’s own self center.
- Dharana : Attention to higher concentration force, either in or beyond material nature. By Dharana, Yogi is able to still Pranic Air at finger tip, ankle, knees, , anus, sex centre, naval centre, heart, epiglottis, throat, bhrumadhya (meeting point of eyebrows ), nose and crown of the head.
VII. Dhyana : One pointed attention of mind in concentration on an object or the most loving image of God.
VIII. Samadhi : Union with the Divine
- WHAT IS HATHA YOGA
Hadhayoga mainly dealt with 7 components viz. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Bandhas (Locks), Mudras and Kriyas.
The word Hatha is produced with two sounds- Ha and Tha. Ha represents Ida and Tha represents Pigala, the Soorya Nadi (Sun nerve) and Chandra Nadi ( Mood nerve) respectively. It means, Hatha Yoga is for the balanced action of both Soorya Nadi and Chandra Nadi. Through the practice of Hatha Yoga, we can find that by the balanced action of Prana and Apana, all the toxins and waste matters accumulated in the body can be expelled and thereby can get rid of sickness of all kinds. Therefore Hatha Yoga is useful for all categories of people including those leading a worldly life.
- WHO ALL CAN PRACTICE YOGA
There is a misconception that path of Yoga is restricted to Sanyasins and Brahmachars. Yoga can be practiced by all sections of people, irrespective of their gender, age, cast, creed, profession, etc.
For practicing Yoga, one need not go to forests or caves, abandoning their family and home. Married life is also not a barrier for practicing Yoga. On the contrary, controlled married life and practice of Yoga are inseparably related and complementary. Also, the belief that Yoga practice is appropriate only for vegetarians is also false. All those who prefer to have light and hygienic food can practice Yoga. However vegetarian food is more appropriate for human beings.
The very purpose of Yoga is to maintain inner calmness and happiness; flexibility and lightness of the body; and above all, to maintain overall health of the body and mind.